Literary December

About ten years ago, while pretending to get computerized, I started collecting literary birthdays and publication dates for my stepdaughter, who was teaching high school English at the time. Cutting and pasting, editing and adding dates and so on, were supposed to help me learn word processing. Obviously, that is still a work in progress. And so is the calendar, which I’ve kept nibbling at all this time, though I’m not entirely sure why — as an obsessive way to avoid real work, perhaps. Along the way, I’ve also incorporated birthdays and such for songwriters and scientists, and bits of poems, proverbs, song lyrics, and quotes in some way associated with a certain month or season, at least in my mind. Someday, I may learn to upload relevant portraits and illustrations. Someday, proper layout and formatting, with quotes and poems nicely indented, authors’ names highlighted, days of the month in a larger font, and other glitzy features may even happen. A fully searchable data base for all this stuff would be great too, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m having fun adding Youtube videos though, with some good ones here if the links keep working. In fairness to readers I should wait until this is more presentable before posting it, but realistically I may never live that long! Ready or not, here’s what I’ve got.

– LLF, 26 December, 2011


They said that it was snowing, in astounded tones, upon the news.
I wonder why they’re always so surprised, for every year it snows.
frozen images of snowplows, as they churned along the motorway …

– Sandy Denny

– Rex [Toddhunter] Stout Indiana-born mystery writer; Nero Wolfe stories 1886-1975

– Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Konigsberg) Brooklyn-born director, screenwriter 1935-
– Kate Rusby Yorkshire-born folk singer, musician, songwriter; “Sweet Bride” 1973-

– novelist and playwright James Baldwin dies in 1987.

– Rewi Alley New Zealand-born writer; lived, worked in China over 60 years 1897-1987
– Brian Lumley English science fiction author 1937-
– Elizabeth Berg Minnesota-born novelist; The Pull of the Moon (1996), What We Keep (1998) 1948-
– T. C. [Thomas Coraghessan] Boyle New York-born humourous novelist, short story writer 1948-
– Ann Patchett California-born novelist; Bel Canto (2001) 1963-

– Joseph Conrad (born Joez Teodor Konrad Nanecz Korzeniowski) Polish-born English writer; novel Lord Jim, short stories Heart of Darkness (1902), The Secret Sharer (1912) 1857-1924

– Treasure Island author novelist Robert Louis Stevenson dies in Samoa in 1894.
– Ralph McTell English folk guitarist, singer, songwriter; “Streets of London” 1944-

– Lerner and Loewe’s musical Camelot, loosely based on the Arthurian legends, opens on Broadway in 1960.

– Thomas Carlyle Scottish essayist, historian; history of the French Revolution 1795-1881
– Samuel Butler English writer; Erewhom, The Way of All Flesh (1903) 1835-1902
– Rainer Maria Rilke German poet; Letters to a Young Poet 1875-1926
– A. L. [Alfred Leslie] Rowse Cornwall-born British historian, poet; The England of Elizabeth: the Structure of Society (1950) 1903-1997
– Cornell Woolrich New York City-born “Film Noir” crime author; story “It Had to Be Murder” was basis for Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) 1903-1968
– Anna McGarrigle Montreal-born folk singer, songwriter; “Heart Like a Wheel” 1944-

– Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire opens on Broadway in 1947.

– Christina [Georgina] Rossetti English poet 1830-1894

– John A. [Alfred] Williams Mississippi-born novelist, journalist; Safari West (1998) 1925-
– Little Richard (born Richard Wayne Penniman) Georgia-born rock and roll pioneer, wild-man pianist, singer, songwriter; “Tutti Frutti”, “lucille” 1932-

– Joan Didion California-born novelist, essayist 1934-
– Calvin Trillin Kansas City (Missouri)-born columnist, satirist 1935-
– John Berendt New York-born Esquire editor, novelist; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) 1939-
– Peter Handke Austrian-born German novelist, playwright 1942-

“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

– Oliver Herford

– William Stanley Braithwaite Boston-born editor, poet, critic 1878-1962
– [Alfred] Joyce Kilmer New Jersey-born journalist, poet; “Trees” 1886-1918
– Osbert Sitwell London-born poet, writer, brother of poet Edith Sitwell 1892-1969
– Ira Gershwin (born Israel Gershowitz)New York City-born Broadway lyricist; “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”; “Summertime” [from the opera Porgy and Bess written with his brother George] 1896-1983

– A US federal judge rules that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is not obscene in 1933.

– Willa [Sibert] Cather Virginia-born novelist, short story writer; O Pioneers! (1913), My Antonia (1918); 1923 Pulitzer 1876-1947

– Yosano Akiko Japanese poet, feminist 1878-1942
– [Arthur] Joyce [Lunel] Cary Anglo-Irish novelist 1888-1957
– [Avram] Noam Chomsky Philadelphia-born linguist,pacifist/anarchist/libertarian/socialist activist; developed transformational grammar 1928-

– In response to news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, songwriter Woody Guthrie writes “All You Fascists Bound to Lose” in 1941.

– Harry [Forster] Chapin New York City-born singer, songwriter; “Taxi”, “WOLD” 1942-1981

– Pearl [Michelle] Cleage (aka Pearl Cleage Lomax) Detroit-born prolific playwright, poet, editor, columnist 1948-
– Playwright Thornton Wilder dies in 1975.

– Horace (born Quintus Horatius Flaccus) Roman poet 65 BCE-8 BCE
– Bjornstjerne [Martinius] Bjornson Norwegian dramatist, poet, novelist, politician; 1903 Nobel 1832-1910
– [George] Norman Douglas British writer; travel books, zoological treatises, novels, autobiography 1868-1952
– Padraic Colum Irish novelist, poet, playwright 1881-1972
– [William] Hervey Allen Pittsburgh-born poet, novelist; Anthony Adverse 1889-1949
– James [Grover] Thurber Ohio-born humorist, cartoonist; Walter Mitty stories 1894-1961

– Richard Llewellyn Welsh novelist; How Green Was My Valley (1939) 1906-1983

– Delmore Schwartz New York City-born poet, short story writer, critic 1913-1966

– Jean Ritchie Kentucky-born folk singer, musician, songwriter; “My Dear Companion”, Singing Family of the Cumberlands (1955) 1922-2015


– Mary Gordon New York-born novelist; Final Payments (1978), The Company of Women (1981) 1949-
– English rock musician and former Beatle John Lennon is murdered outside his New York City home in 1980.

– John Milton English Poet; Paradise Lost (1674) 1608-1674

– Joel Chandler Harris Georgia-born writer; Uncle Remus stories 1848-1908
– Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is published in 1854.

– Jean de Brunhoff Paris-born author, illustrator of childrens’ books; Babar the Little Elephant stories 1899-1937
– [James] Dalton Trumbo Colorado-born screenwriter, novelist; NBA for Johnny Got His Gun (1939); blacklisted in Hollywood anti-Communist witch hunts 1905-1976
– Samuel W. [Washington] Allen Ohio-born poet, critic 1917-
– Sara E. [Elizabeth] Wright Maryland-born poet, novelist, non-fiction writer; co-founder Philadelphia Writers’ Workshop; This Child’s Gonna Live (1969) 1928-2009
– Neil [James] Innes English humorous singer, songwriter; music for Monty Python projects 1944-

– George MacDonald Scottish fantasy author; The Light Princess 1824-1905
– Emily [Elizabeth] Dickinson Massachusetts-born reclusive poet 1830-1886

– Nelly Sachs German poet; 1966 Nobel 1891-1970
– [Kathleen] Mary Norton British children’s writer; the Borrowers stories 1903-1992
– William [Charles Franklin] Plomer South African expatriate writer, editor; focused on South African politics 1903-1973
– [Margaret] Rumer Godden English author 1907-1998
– Carolyn [Ashley] Kizer Washington-born poet 1925-

– Philip R. Craig California-born mystery writer; J.W. Jackson series 1933-2007
– Soul singer and songwriter Otis Redding dies in an airplane crash in 1967.

Look around,
The grass is high,
The fields are ripe,
It’s the springtime of my life.

Seasons change with the scenery;
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me?

I look a round,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

-Paul Simon

– Alfred de Musset Paris-born poet, playwright, novelist 1810-1857
– [Ali] Kemal Bey Turkish poet, journalist 1867-1922
– Naguib Mahfouz Egyptian novelist, playwright, short-story writer; 1988 Nobel 1911-2006
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Russian Soviet-era dissident, novelist; The First Circle (1968), August 1914 (1971), The Gulag Archipelago (1973); 1970 Nobel 1918-2008
– Grace Paley New York City-born short story writer, poet 1922-2007
– Jerome Rothenberg New York City-born poet, translator 1931-

– Jim Harrison Michigan-born poet, novelist; three-volume Legends of the Fall 1937-
– Thomas McGuane Michigan-born novelist 1939-

– Gustave Flaubert French novelist; Madame Bovary (1857) 1821-1880

– [Charles] Maurice Donnay French playwright 1859-1945
– English poet Robert Browning dies in 1889.
– Lillian [Eugenia] Smith Florida-born teacher, social critic, writer; novel Strange Fruit (1944) 1897-1966
– John Osborne English playwright; Look Back in Anger (1956) 1929-1994

– [Christian] Heinrich Heine German poet, essayist, travel writer; ironical lyrics and ballads, many set to music 1797-1856

– Marc Connelly Pennsylvania-born playwright, screenwriter 1890-1980
– Kenneth Patchen Ohio-born poet, novelist 1911-1972

– Ross MacDonald (born Kenneth Millar) California-born mystery novelist; P I Lew Archer series 1915-1983
– James Wright Ohio-born poet 1927-1980

– Lester [Leslie Conway] Bangs California-born influential rock critic 1948-1982
– Tom Verlaine )born Thomas Miller) New Jersey-born rock guitarist, songwriter; Television founding member 1949-

– Nostradamus (born Michel de Notredame) French physician, astrologer; well-known rhyming prophecies Centuries (1555) 1503-1566

– Shirley Jackson San Francisco-born novelist, short story writer; “The Lottery” 1919-1965

– Stanley Crouch California-born essayist; member black arts movement 1945-
– Carolyn M. [Marie] Rodgers Chicago-born poet 1945-
– Amy Hempel Chicago-born short story writer 1951-
– Beth [Elizabeth Caroline] Orton English folk singer, songwriter 1970-

– Betty Smith (born Elisabeth Wehner) Brooklyn-born Novelist; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) 1906-1972
– Muriel Rukeyser New York City-born poet, feminist activist 1913-1980
– Edna O’Brien Irish controversial writer 1932-
– Donald Goines (aka Al C. Clark) Detroit-born novelist; grim novels of urban life 1936-1974
– Contentious British journalist and essayist Christopher Hitchens dies in 2011.

In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity

– John Keats

– Jane Austen English novelist; Pride and Prejudice, Emma 1775-1817

– Grimms fairytales author German folklorist Wilhelm Carl Grimm dies in 1859.
– George Santayana Spanish-born US poet, philosopher 1863-1952
– Noel [Peirce] Coward English comedic playwright, screenwriter, actor, composer; Private Lives (1930), Blithe Spirit (1941) 1899-1973
– V. S. [Victor Sawdon] Pritchett English novelist, literary critic 1900-1997
– Margaret Mead Philadelphia-born cultural anthropologist; Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) 1901-1978
– Arthur C. [Charles] Clarke English futurist, science fiction writer; story “Monolith” was basis for the movie 2001, A Space Odyssey 1917-2008

– Philip K. [Kindred] Dick Chicago-born science fiction writer 1928-1982

– John Greenleaf Whittier Massachusetts-born poet, abolitionist 1807-1892

– Jules de Goncourt French novelist, wrote with his brother Edmond 1830-1870
– Charles Dickens’ ubiquitous story “A Christmas Carol” is published in 1843.

– Ford Madox Ford (born Ford Hermann Hueffer) English prolific novelist, critic, biographer, editor; work influenced by World War I experiences 1873-1939
– Ezekiel Mphahlele (aka Es’kia Mphahlele, Bruno Eseki) South African novelist, autobiographer,literary critic; The Wanderers (1971), Chirundu (1981) 1919-2008
– Jack Chalker Baltimore-born science fiction/fantasy writer 1944-

– Saki (born Hector Hugh Munro) Burma-born British journalist, short story writer 1870-1916 [killed by a sniper in World War I]

– Christopher Fry English playwright; The Lady’s Not for Burning 1907-2005
– Alfred Bester New York City-born science fiction, comic book writer; The Demolished Man (1953) 1913-1987
– Ossie Davis Georgia-born actor, dramatist, screenwriter, novelist; play Purlie Victorious (1961), musical adaptation Purlie (1970) 1917-2005
– Sterling E. [Edmund] Lanier New York City-born sculptor, science fiction writer, editor 1927-2007
– Michael [John] Moorcock English fantasy author 1939-
– Deke [Roger] Leonard Welsh rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, member of Man; “We’re Only Children” 1944-

– Czech dissident writer and statesman Vachlev Havel dies in 2011.

– Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack is first published in 1732.
– Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë dies in 1848.
– Italo Svevo (born Aron Ettore Schmitz) Italian novelist; Trieste 1861-1928
– Oliver [Hazard Perry[ La Farge New York City-born author, anthropologist; Pulitzer for novel Laughing Boy (1930) 1901-1963
– Jean Genet French novelist, playwright 1910-1986
– Eve [Anne Evelyn] Bunting Irish-born US children’s author 1928-
– Phil [Philip David] Ochs Texas-born folk singer, songwriter; “There But for Fortune” 1940-1976 [death by suicide]

– John Fletcher English playwright; mostly in collaboration with Francis Beaumont 1579-1625 [baptismal date]
– T. F. [Theodore Francis] Powys English poet, novelist 1875-1953
– Suzanne K. [Katherina] Langer New York City-born philosopher of art, author 1895-1985
– Hortense Calisher New York City-born novelist 1911-2009
– Billy [Stephen William] Bragg English folk-punk musician, singer, songwriter, activist; “Between the Wars”, “St. Swithin’s Day”, “There Is Power in a Union” 1957-

– The Grapes of Wrath author novelist John Steinbeck dies in 1968.

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time removed was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

– William Shakespeare

– Benjamin Disraeli British Conservative statesman, pioneer of political novels 1804-1881
– Gustave Kahn French symbolist poet, critic 1859-1936
– Albert Payson Terhune New Jersey-born journalist, collie breeder, wrote numerous dog stories; Lad of Sunnybank 1872-1942
– Henrik Ibsen’s drama A Doll’s House premieres in Copenhagen in 1879.
– Rebecca West (born Cicely Isabel Fairfield) English novelist 1892-1983
– Anthony [Dymoke] Powell English novelist; 12-novel cycle A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-1975) 1905-2000
– Heinrich [Theodor] Boll German writer; 1972 Nobel 1917-1985
– Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald dies in 1940.
– Frank [Vincent] Zappa Baltimore-born rock musician, songwriter, satirist 1940-1993

– Charles Stuart Calverley English poet, parodist 1831-1884
– Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky is reprieved from a death sentence at the last minute in 1849.
– Edwin Arlington Robinson Maine-born poet; “Richard Cory”, Pulitzers for: Collected Poems (1921), Tristram (1927) 1869-1935

– English novelist George Eliot dies in 1880.
– Kenneth Rexroth Indiana-born poet, translator 1905-1982

– Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter dies in 1943.
– Irish playwright Samuel Beckett dies in 1989.
– Former Clash guitarist and lead singer Joe Strummer dies in 2002.

– Martin Opitz German poet 1597-1639
– Charles-Augustin de Sainte-Beuve French author, literary critic 1804-1869
– Samuel Smiles Scottish author; Jasmin 1812-1904
– Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is published in 1823.

– Harriet Monroe Chicago-born poet; first editor of Poetry journal 1860-1936
– Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Sicilian writer; Il Gattopardo 1896-1957
– Robert Bly Minnesota-born poet, translator; “Iron John” 1926-
– Avi (born Edward Irving Wortis) New York City-born children’s author 1937-

– George Crabbe English poet, curate; portrayals of rural life 1754-1832
– Matthew Arnold English poet, critic 1822-1888

– English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray dies in 1863.
– Juan Ramón Jiménez Andalusia-born Spanish poet, journalist; left Spain during its Civil War; 1956 Nobel 1881-1958
– Fritz [Reuter] Leiber [Jr.] Chicago-born fantasy writer 1910-1992
– Mary Higgins Clark New York City-born mystery, suspense novelist 1929-

– Isaac Newton English physicist, mathematician 1642-1727 [old calender birth date]
– William Collins English poet 1721-1759
– William Demby Pittsburgh-born novelist, scriptwriter 1922-
– Carlos Castaneda Peru-born US anthropologist, writer; The Teachings of Don Juan 1931-1998
– Jimmy [James William] Buffett Mississippi-born pop musician, singer, songwriter; “Margaritaville” 1946-

– English playwright Harold Pinter dies in 2008.

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.

-J. M. Barrie

– Shakespeare’s tragedyKing Lear is performed at James I’s Court in 1606.

– Thomas Gray English poet, scholar of history and languages; friend of Horace Walpole 1716-1771
– Henry Miller New York-born novelist; Tropic of Cancer (1934), Tropic of Capricorn (1939) [neither was published in the US until the early 1960s because they were considered obscene] 1891-1980

– Mao Tse-Tung (aka Mao Zedong) Chinese Communist revolutionary, politician, political theorist; Quotations from Chairman Mao 1893-1976
– Jean Toomer (born Nathan Eugene Toomer) Washington DC-born poet, short story writer, dramatist, essayist; Cane (1923) 1894-1967
– Steve Allen New York City-born comedian, television host, writer, composer; created PBS series A Meeting of Minds; song “This Could Be the Start of something Big” 1921-2000

– Louis Bromfield Ohio-born writer; 1926 Pulitzer 1896-1956
– Wilfrid Sheed English writer 1930-

– Common Sense author Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason in 1793.
– Pio Baroja y Nessa Spanish Basque novelist 1872-1956
– Mortimer J. [Jerome] Adler New York City-born author, philosopher 1902-2001
– George Bernard Shaw’s historical drama Saint Joan premieres on Broadway in 1923.
– Rod [Rodman Edward] Serling New York-born screenwriter, television producer; The Twilight Zone 1927-1975
– Manuel Puig Argentinian writer; Kiss of the Spider Woman 1932-1990
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel The Gulag Archipelago is published in 1973.

– Robert Ruark North Carolina-born writer; hunting, outdoor stories 1915-1965
– James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is published in 1916.

– [Joseph] Rudyard Kipling Bombay-born English author; 1907 Nobel; The Jungle Book (1894), Kim, Just-So Stories (1902) 1865-1936

– Paul Bowles New York-born novelist, short story, travel writer 1910-1999
– Bo Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates) Mississippi-born R&B and early rock guitarist, singer, songwriter; “Mona”, “Who Do You Love?” 1928-2008
– John Hartford (born John Cowan Harford) New York City-born folk and country musician, singer, songwriter; Gentle on My Mind” (1967) 1937-2001

– Mercer Mayer Arkansas-born children’s author 1943-
– Patti [Patricia Lee] Smith Chicago-born poet, rock singer, songwriter; “Dancing Barefoot”, lyrics for “Because the Night” 1946-

– The musical Kiss Me Kate, loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, opens on Broadway in 1948.

The last day of the old year was one of those bright, cold, dazzling winter days, which bombard us with their brilliancy, and command our admiration – but never our love.

– Lucy Maud Montgomery

– Frank Marshall Davis Kansas-born poet, journalist; protested inequality 1905-1987
– Clarence Major Georgia-born experimental fiction writer, poet 1936-
– Roy Sydney Porter British non-fiction writer 1946-2002
– Paul Westerberg Minnesota-born rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, Replacements founding member 1959-

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

– Bill Vaughan


Leave a Reply - I've Had My Say, Now It's Your Turn!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.